Thursday, March 28, 2013

La La Land: La Salle invades L.A.

This is the charm of the NCAA Tournament.

Every once in awhile, something totally unexpected happens.

Meet the La Salle Explorers.

They got into the tournament as one of the four teams who got last-second invites in what used to be called the "play-in" games.

Drive a couple hours outside of the Philly area, and even the most avid hoops fans are asking, "La Who?"

We know better. We know all about Tom Gola, Hubie Marshall, Kenny Durrett, and Lionel Simmons.

We smile knowningly as the nation learns all about the "Southwest Philly Floater." It's playground ball, and every neighborhood has its trademark move.

All the Explorers have done is win three games in five days. Today they are waking up in La La Land. No, that does not stand for La Salle. It stands for Los Angeles, where the Sweet 16 tips off tonight.

At this point there is no reason to believe La Salle can't beat Wichita State, a fairly formidable long shot in their own right.

But, really, are you going to bet against a small Catholic school on Holy Thursday?

Better plan on a nap this afternoon. The La Salle-Wichita State tip-off is slated for 10:17, and that is if the first game runs on time, which is dicey in itself.

La Salle carries with it the proud tradition of Philly basketball. I think they're up to the challenge.

Elite Eight here we come.

Go Explorers!

We're looking for the worst potholes in Delco

You knew it was coming. After winter - even this interminable stretch of miserable, cold weather - comes spring.

And something else. Potholes.

We're trying to locate the biggest axel-busters in Delco. Vince Sullivan gets things kicked off with this story. He also notes how you can alert PennDOT so they can fill them in.

But we're not done. If you'd like to nominate a pothole, email it to Vince at vsullivan@delcotimes.com. Feel free to take a photo as well.

We'll run the list of the biggest potholes in the Sunday paper.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday March 27

The Daily Numbers: 2 deaths tied to a vehicular manslaughter while DUI case in Trainer.

7-16 years in jail for the man convicted of running the 2 men down after an argument

4 men, including a convicted murderer, as well as 2 juveniles, nabbed in a heist at the Elwyn Pharmacy.

2 straight days of arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on same-sex marriage issues.

1,105 acres, including some in Delco, part of new federal park on what was the Woodlawn tract. More than 200 of the acres are in Chadds Ford.

500,000 dollars in jewelry and ritzy handbags stolen by burglars who hit a home in Villanova.

16 of March, last time Radnor High grad and Brown University student was seen. He's target of a massive search.

13 DUI charges for a man ni Bucks County. He's finally getting some jail time.

1 winning ticket in that $338 million Powerball jackpot.

45, age of Pedro Quezada, who had the lucky ticket.

221 million dollar lump sum payment, what he's taking. AFter taxes it comes to about $152 million.

111.90 spike for Wall Street yesterday, ending with another record high of 14,559.65

8.1 percent rise in home prices in U.S.

600,000 dollars, how much local author Buzz Bissinger says he has spent on clothes. Buzz says he has a thing for leather, and owns 81 leather jackets, 75 pairs of boots and 115 pairs of leather gloves.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Stick a fork in the Flyers. They just might be done.

I Don’t Get It: A young mom and her mother were working a con on SEPTA involving use of a daily pass. Only thing they forgot was the teen mom's baby. Oops.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the La Salle Explorers, as they carry the badge of Philly hoops honor and seek a spot in the Elite Eight Thursday night in L.A. Quote Box: “I wake up every day knowing what I did and it will be there the rest of my life. I'm so sorry." - Edward Shaw, who ran down two men in Trainer while under the influence.

We're looking for the worst potholes in Delco

You knew it was coming. After winter - even this interminable stretch of miserable, cold weather - comes spring.

And something else. Potholes.

We're trying to locate the biggest axel-busters in Delco. Vince Sullivan gets things kicked off with his story today. He also notes how you can alert PennDOT so they can fill them in.

But we're not done. If you'd like to nominate a pothole, email it to Vince at vsullivan@delcotimes.com. Feel free to take a photo as well.

We'll run the list of the biggest potholes in the Sunday paper.

A growing rogue's gallery of parents

The rogue's gallery of local parents just keeps adding new members.

Here in Delaware County we've had two incidents of parents egging their offspring on to engage in fighting. First there was the Clifton Heights mom who took her 12-year-old daughter to a local schoolyard to confront a girl mom claims had been bullying her daughter.

Of course the entire sorry affair, with mom orchestrating the whole thing and making sure no other girls (yes, there was quite a crowd gathered to witness this tawdry affair) got involved, was captured on videotape. She vowed to take matters into her own hands if anyone interfered. So instead they all watched as mom first encouraged her daughter to duke it out, then kept egging the girls on, even after it became clear they were no longer interested in fighting and even looked to settle their dispute at one point.

Mom now faces charges. And of course the video went viral.

A dad in Chester Township also is in trouble with the law, after he did much the same thing with his daughter, again pushing her to come to blows with another girl, and once again with the incident videotaped for posterity.

And who could forget the mom who got involved in an altercation with a store employee in Upper Darby. This was not her first time down this road. She had been banned from the store because of a previous incident.

When a store employee confronted her, she whipped out a can of pepper spray and tried to use it to fend off the worker. A struggle ensued, and the pepper spray wound up on the floor. As the worker held mom at bay, she ordered her daughter to pick up the pepper spray and use it on the worker.

There's no end to this nonsense.

In Philly, SEPTA officials are now telling of the young mom and grandmother who concocted a scheme to use a day pass to pay for their two fares. The teen mom went through the turnstile at 60th Street Station, then handed the pass back to grandma, who was apparently going to use it at 56th Street Station.

They only forgot one thing in this little caper.

The 15-year-old's baby, which was left in a stroller at the 56th Street Station. Each apparently thought the baby was with the other. When grandmom got on at 60th Street Station, they realized what had happened and were frantic. The baby was safe, having been discovered by a SEPTA cashier.

They say it takes a village to raise our children.

Especially with parents like these.

Orange you glad the Phils are just around the corner?

Five days and counting.

The start of the baseball season can't get here soon enough. Isn't that right Flyers fans?

The winter of our discontent hit another pothole last night. In what is quickly looking like a do-or-die situation, the Flyers died again.

And making it even worse was that it came at the hands of those hated Rangers.

The Flyers dug themselves an early 3-0 hole, then rallied to within a goal, only to fall short once again, losing 5-2.

You can read Rob Parent's take on the game here.

Columnist Jack McCaffery says don't blame goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. Goal-scoring is this team's Achilles heel. Read Jack here.

The Flyers now sit seven points out of the final playoff.

Bring on Cole Hamels and the Phillies.

And speaking of the pinstripes, make sure you pick up a copy of this Sunday's Daily Times for our special Philliew preview section, including a full-color centerspread Phillies schedule. It's perfect for putting over top of that Flyers schedule on the fridge.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday March 26

The Daily Numbers: 26,000 dollars stolen from Ridley Little League by the former treasurer. The woman entered a guilty plea yesterday.

50,000 dollars stolen in total in the case.

3 men held for trial in a horrific carjacking and sexual assault of a woman on Christmas night. She was driven into Philadelphia and sexually assaulted for hours before being dumped back on an Upper Darby street.

20 inches, how much snow we get in a normal winter.

10 inches of snow recorded so far this winter.

35, age of man missing from Ridley since last July.

200 Roman Catholics from the Philadelphia Archdiocese who will be getting on buses and heading to D.C. today for the Supreme Court arguments on gay marriage.

4 men arrested in heist at Elwyn Pharmacy. Police now will check to see if their are connected to series of pharmacy robberies in the area.

50 feet, how far a man fleeing from Chester Police plunged from a CSX bridge overnight. He was last seen limping toward Chester Park.

500,000 dollars needed immediately to keep the SS United States from being sold for scrap.

1 of May, when Pa. Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin will step down, before she is sentenced on bribery charges.

1 man who came forward with winning ticket in the $338 million Powerball drawing in North Jersey.

200,000 people across the region who are facing a 10.7 percent cut in their unemployment benefits

17 games left for Flyers, who are getting close to now or never time.

1, as in No. 1 in the world golf rankings for Tiger Woods, back on top again.

12 earned runs on 14 hits in 4 innings surrendered by Phils starter John Lannan yesterday in a wind-blown affair.

27 straight wins for the Miami Heat, who topped the Magic last night.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Anyone else getting a little queasy thinking about the Phillies starting pitching?

I Don’t Get It: Stealing from your local Little League. I don't get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Punxsutawney Phil. Give the roden this: At least he admits he totally botched the forecast. Still waiting for one of our local TV types to do the same.

Quote Box: “I thought I was going to die." -Victim in horrific carjacking and assault in Upper Darby.

Mother - and the mayor - knows best

Got an email bright and early Saturday morning from Upper Darby Mayor Tom Micozzie. He was objecting to a 'Dart' on Saturday's editorial page that wondered what was going on with moms in Upper Darby.

It specifically referenced a mom who had been charged with urging her daughter to pick up a can of pepper spray and use it after mom had gotten involved in an altercation with a store employee.

It came about a week after another woman was charged with inciting her daughter to fight another girl on the playground at Primos Elementary School.

The mayor has a point. The item took an unnecessarily broad brush in taking a swipe at Upper Darby moms. And in truth the playground brawling mom was from neighboring Clifton Heights, not Upper Darby.

The point of the item was to admonish these particular moms. I never intended for the item to pain all moms with that accusation.

Probably should have made that clear.

Point taken, mayor.

Late date for Elite Eight for La Salle

We interrupt the unmitigated nirvana surrounding the La Salle Explorers for this one small downer when it comes to the Explorers.

No, I am not going to try to take credit for the 'Southwest Philly Floater,' the driving layup from Tyrone Garland that sealed the deal as La Salle upset Mississippi to advance to the Sweet 16.

But I will admit this one is personal. And it has nothing to do with the fact that I have been an Explorers fan since my oldest brother became an alum back in the '60s.

Instead, as just about everything does these days, this little nugget has to do with my job.

Anyone notice the start time for La Salle's Thursday night clash in Los Angeles with Wichita State for a spot in the Elite Eight?

Uh, that would be 7:17 p.m.

In L.A.

That means 10:17 p.m. here on the East Coast. You read it right. The La Salle game will not start until after 10 o'clock. And that is if the first game does not run long.

The result? Don't look for full-court coverage in the Friday paper. The game will end too late for that. Hopefully, we'll be able to get something on a late page for a replate. Of course, you can go to DelcoTimes.com for our normal full coverage.

And yes, I know that drives some readers crazy. Nothing ticks off our longtime, loyal print customers more than telling them something is available online that we are not offering in print. Hey, don't blame me. Stick this one on the poobahs at the NCAA who set the games times, and of course decided to put La Salle in the West Region, and thus in Los Angeles Thursday night. You'd think at least they would have made them the first game. Nope, that goes to Ohio State vs. Arizona.

By the way, don't bet against the Explorers.  I think they can take Wichita State.

La Salle in the Elite Eight? Gotta love that. Go Explorers!

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Monday March 25

The Daily Numbers: 1-3 inches of snow expected here in Delco today.

10 more workers pink-slipped at the former Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook as it moves toward a new life for Marcellus Shale resources.

9,000 dollars for study of open space use in Nether Providence, Rose Valley and Rutledge.

31, age of Chester Township man now charged with encouraging his juvenile daughter to fight another girl.

2 such incidents in as many weeks in the county.

2008 graduate of Radnor High School who has been missing for a week from Brown University.

6 train cars that derailed in South Philly.

1 winning ticket sold in Saturday Powerball drawing - and it was sold in New Jersey.

338 million dollar jackpot snagged with the winning ticket.

1 penny decline nationally in the price of gasoline.

8 cents more a month ago, but 19 cents less expensive than this time last year. 3.66 a gallon, average price in the Philly region.

76-74 win for La Salle over Ole Miss to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA men's hoops tourney.

58-52 loss for Temple to top seed Indiana.

2-1 loss for the Flyers to the Penguins.

117-103 win for Sixers over the Sacramento Kings.

1 January, last time the Sixers won a road game.

4 RBIs and a home run for Chase Utley yesterday vs. Red Sox.

7 days until the Phillies open the season in Atlanta.

33 points for Elena Delle Donne to lead the Delaware women to another win.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Gotta love the La Salle story. Go Explorers!

I Don’t Get It: We have another incident of a parent encouraging a child to fight another. This time it's in Chester Township, where a dad is charged with egging his daughter on. I don't get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the La Salle Explorers, who head on to the Sweet 16.

Quote Box: “The reality is the modern-day student expects housing as part of the package." - Penn State Brandywine Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska, on likelihood that the Delco campus will soon be adding housing.

Weather or not, spring is on hold, but there is joy in TV land

Just shoot me now.

Spring isn't coming this year. Blame Punxsutawney, if you want. I figure he's as much to clame as anyone else.

Me? I think you know who I'm blaming.

It dawned on me that the world is going to hell in a handbasket last night when I happened to catch the start of the evening network news at 6:30. I almost spit my teeth out.

Yes, the snow was the BIG story. We're not talking the usual blathering heads on local news. This was the network. A reporter was standing next to an interstate out in Kansas City. The middle of the country is getting pelted with what seems like the millionth storm they've suffered in this endless winter.

But what struck me as she gave her report was the road she was standing next to. It was wet. Traffic was whizzing by without so much as a single glitch.

Of course the joy is unbridled on local TV this morning. After several early reports where reporters actually wished for snow, some now has finally arrived.

Or as one TV reporter just informed me, it's an UGLY morning out there. Really, how exactly is that? Another just gave me an update. I stand corrected. The roads are not just wet. They're "super wet." Thanks for that little nugget, folks.

Again, the roads are wet. Snow is likely going to accumulate on some grassy surfaces. Or, as I was just breathlessly informed, it's also on your car. so might have to brush it off. I'm not making this up. I just heard it.

I don't doubt we're going to get some snow today. Even here in Delaware County, as opposed to, say, southern Delaware or the Poconos. Hey, you go where you need to go to gets some video of snow falling. Sounds like we're going to get 1-3 inches around here.

The roads will still be just wet. But I'm sure we'll be reminded a 1,000 times today how 'treacherous' things are out there. And be warned of 'slick' spots.

It's Holy Week. I shouldn't curse. I'm not supposed to be cursing for Lent.

I guess you could say I'm under the weather. It's been that kind of winter. And spring.

Damn you, Punxsutawney.

Black & White & Read All Over

Since the region seems to be fixated on race issues these days in the wake of that controversial Philly Mag article, I decided to offer my two cents today.

Specifically, I wanted to address something that pops up pretty often in our coverage. It's a criticism, something that we are often accused of, but with which I disagree.

That would be the belief by some that stories get played differently in the Daily Times depending on their race. I beg to differ.

You can read my print column here.

 

It's Sweet for Explorers

I have to admit I have a soft spot in my heart for La Salle. My oldest brother - the first to go off to college - is an alum.

I distinctly remember him coming home one Christmas and insisting we had to get this weird box to sit on top of our TV. That was our introduction to UHF television - Channel 48 - and the great Quaker City Invitational Tournament.

As you can expect, he was pretty excited this weekend.

Three city teams made it into the NCAA tournament. Only La Salle is still dancing.

The Explorers advanced to the Sweet 16 with a gutty two-point win over Ole Miss. You can read all about it here.  It's the first time in more than 50 years La Salle has advanced this far. Actually, the last time the Explorers got this far the tournament didn't even have a Sweet 16.

There is a bit of justice here for La Salle. I have always been of the belief that the greatest team in Big 5 history was that Kenny Durrett-led juggernaut that also featured Larry Cannon, my favorite all-time Big 5 players. That team was not allowed to compete in the tournament because it was placed on probation by the NCAA. They still were ranked the No. 2 team in the nation.

Better rest up, La Salle fans. Your reward for beating Ole Miss is a 10 is a game in Los Angeles Thursday night that will start  - start! - after 10 p.m. So much for deadline.

Go Explorers!

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Friday March 22

The Daily Numbers: 21 of May, date of the primary election, one that embattled Marcus Hook Mayor Jay Schiliro vows he will be in, rejecting calls that he step down.

20, age of man at the center of allegations against Schiliro.

4 bank robberies here in Delaware County believed to be the work of a man from New Jersey.

3 bank heists in Lansdowne, Yeadon and Upper Darby charged against a Philly man.

200,000 dollars in scholarships being made available to local students through the Bridge Educational Foundation 320 million bucks up for grabs in the Saturday night Powerball drawing.

4.6 trillion dollar reduction for government under the budget plan proposed by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.

105-90 vote in the Pa. House in favor of a move to privatize sale of alcohol in the state.

194 pages in the privatization bill.

1,200 wine and spirits licenses that would be sold to private entities.

18, age of teen who police say was high on pot and also texting when he struck and killed a woman jogging along a road in Limerick.

5 teens in Delaware who are charged with kidnapping a woman and keeping her locked in the trunk ofher car for 2 days.

89, age of the victim in the case; 14, 15, 14 and 17, ages of the kids involved.

3 local college hoops teams all in action today in the NCAA tournament. La Salle, Temple and Villanova will play in that order, starting around noon.

3 state PIAA AAAA crowns, what Chester High will be seeking Saturday night vs. Lower Merion in Hershey.

23-6 mark on the season for the Archbishop Carroll Patriots, who will seek the boys PIAA AAA crown tonight.

14 straight wins for the Nuggets, who edged the Sixers in Denver last night, 101-100.

8 point lead blown by the Sixers in the last 2 minutes.

15 consecutive road losses for the Sixers.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. What's the over/under on number of hours spent in front of TV watching NCAA games today. I'll set the line at 5, and I'll take the over.

I Don’t Get It: Still kind of amazed at this streak of hijinks involving Upper Darby moms and kids. What's in the water around here?

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the state House for voting in favor of a bill that would push the state toward privatization of alcohol sales.

Quote Box: “I don't see it how it is relevant. It just seems to be a little salacious." - Mike Malloy, attorney for Marcus Hook Mayor James Schiliro, on sexual claims in affidavit.

A little House whine on the road to privatization

It's pretty safe to say that state Rep. Bill Adolph and I have not always been on the same page.

Adolph, R-165, of Springfield, is not shy about calling - and sometimes even visiting - the newspaper when he disagrees with something we've written. And he doesn't mind firing back with opinion pieces of his own.

So I had to smile yesterday when I heard his defense as Democrats attacked legislation that would lead to privatization of alcohol sales in Pennsylvania.

We're on the same page. Go get 'em, Bill.

One of the red flags being raised by Democrats to keep the archaic system the Commonwealth now uses to sell wine and spirits is that turning it over to private enterprise will lead to a host of social problems, including a spike in alcohol ills, and an increase in underage drinkers getting their mitts on hooch.

Enter Adolph.

The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee wondered how Democrats could make that argument out of one side of their mouth, while out of the other espousing the belief that the answer is really to modernize the state store system to make them more consumer friendly.

Damn good point, representative.

Eventually, Adolph and his Republican colleagues prevailed. The House voted 105-90, for the most part along party lines, to back privatization and send the bill to the Senate. You can read the story here.

Before you start popping champagne corks, you might want to read the comments of another powerful Delco pol. Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, cautions that the Senate is in no rush to take up the legislation, and he assures us that the bill will likely be altered some more in that chamber.

Swell.

This is already a watered-down version of what Gov. Tom Corbett originally proposed. But that didn't stop the governor from acting downright giddy after the vote last night.

I can't say I blame him. If I had his approval ratings, and I needed a win as desperately as he does, I guess I'd be happy, too.

But this is not going to blow up the state store system, as I have proposed for years.

The state stores will remain in business.

First crack at those private licenses will go to beer distributors, who then will decide if they want to add wine and liquor to the cases of beer they currently sell.

Privately operated outfits such as sales in supermarkets or Total Wine wouldn't happen for another year after that.

The state stores wouldn't disappear for years.

But there is something else Pileggi said that gave me a bit of a queasy feeling. The senator has made it clear he's in the camp of modernizing the system, making it more convenient and more consumer friendly, as opposed to blowing things up.

That sounds to me decidedly like the status quo. How about this? I don't really care how it's done, I just want to go one place for all my needs. If you want to add beer sales (and that means singles, six-packs and cases) at the state store, that would be fine by me. Although I'm pretty sure the beer distributors wouldn't be thrilled by it.

But I also want to bring in private enterprise. That means beer, wine and alcohol in supermarkets, and cold six-packs in my local Wawa or convenience stores.

That certainly sounds convenient to me.

The House has spoken. The ball's now in your court, Sen. Pileggi.

Bring on the amendments!

Schiliro needs to step down

Let me say this first. I like Jay Schiliro.

When Marcus Hook was rocked by the news from Sunoco that they were getting out of the refinery business, Schiliro was out front in the battle for a way of life in the lower end of the county.

He was one of the keys in pressuring Sunoco to help the borough with what was clearly going to be an economic haymaker.

But the mayor has clear gone off the tracks a bit.

Yesterday, one week after the Daily Times first reported the details, Schiliro was charged in connection with a bizarre incident at his home involving a 20-year-old man, a gun, booze and some sordid allegations.

You can read all the details of his arrest and the charges filed against him here.

Schiliro has been adamant in saying he will not give up his post as borough mayor, despite some pretty clear pressure from borough council that he do just that. Yesterday the mayor again indicated he has no intention of resigning, and that he will remain on the May primary ballot. He does face a Republican challenge in the primary. Schiliro also said he will fight the charges against him in court.

We think he should rethink his position. He should resign.

Maybe the most troubling aspect of what is clearly a distrubing situation is the fact that authorities allege Schiliro used a borough police officer to go get the man and bring him to his house. As mayor Schiliro oversees the police department. That just can't happen.

We look forward to hearing Schiliro's version of all this when he gets his day in court.

But for now, he should step down as mayor.

You can read our editorial here.

 

March madness for Carroll, Clippers

Welcome to March Madness.

No, I'm not talking about the NCAA Tournament, although I have to admit I wouldn't mind owning a sports bar today. The hoops gods must love Philly. We have three local teams in action, and they line up perfectly, one after another.

I imagine eyes will be glued to big-screen TVs all over the area. If you have Temple or La Salle products working in your office, don't expect a lot to get done this afternoon.

Here's the lineup: Temple faces North Carolina state at 1:40 on TBS. Then it's La Salle vs. Kansas State at 3:10 on TruTV. Take a quick dinner break and plop back in front of the tube for Villanova vs. North Carolina at 7:20 back on TNT.

But what I really am talking about is not the college game, but high school hoops. This is a huge weekend for both Archbishop Carroll and Chester High.

Carroll kicks things off tonight as they play for the PIAA AAA boys title vs. Imhotep Charter in Hershey. Staffer Matt Chandik offers a preview here.

Then tomorrow night the majestic Chester High Clippers will seek their third consecutive PIAA AAAA crown when they tangle with old foe Lower Merion up at Chocolatetown. Matt also has that preview here.

Chester is seeking a little bit of history. Even at a school steeped in hoops hallmarks, this team is on the brink of doing something no other Clippers squad has ever done before. Chester High has never won three straight state titles. If they complete the three-peat, it will be the first time it's happened since 1988, when Carlisle accomplished the rare feat.

And in an odd coincidence, here's a hint at the kind of coverage you can expect. The Pennsylvania Newspaper Association yesterday announced the winners of their Keystone Awards for the best newspaper work in 2012. Our gang of Chris Vito, Jack McCaffery, Matt Smith and Eric Hartline won a first-place award for sports event coverage for their wall-to-wall coverage of the Clippers' win last year that capped a perfect, undefeated season. How about a repeat, guys?

Stick with us all weekend for complete coverage of both Carroll and Chester. They don't call us the Delaware County Sports Authority for nothing.

Go Clippers and Patriots!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Daily Numbers: 8 months spend in jail for a Chester man who was wrongly accused in a city murder.

6 inches difference in height between Tahmir Craig and the suspect in the suveillance video. Craig is 5 feet, 5 and a half inches; the suspect is 5 feet, 11 and a half inches.

6-3 vote by the Penn-Delco School Board to expel the vice president of the senior class, who was involved in a confrontation with the director of the school play.

6 story, 125-room hotel planned for Tinicum in the area of the airport.

7, age of child an Upper Darby woman is accused of using to help her in an attack on 2 store employees.

2 squatters who now face rape charges after a strip party they were having with 2 teens got out of control, according to police.

41, where Delco ranks in terms of the healthiest counties in Pa. Chester County next door is No. 1; Philadelphia is dead last at 67.

1,300 Roman Catholic nuns who signed a letter sent to Pa. Gov. Tom Corbett asking him to reverse his decision not to take federal Medicaid expansion funds available through the health care reform act.

108-91 vote in the Pa. House to nix a Democratic amendment on the plan to privatize alcohol sales. The full House is expected to vote on the plan today.

85 billion dollars in cuts OK'd by the U.S. Senate, averting a government shutdown.

30 million dollars OK'd by N.J. Gov. Chris Christie to push an ad campaign to lure people back to the Jersey shore after Hurricane Sandy.

1939, when the NCAA men's hoops tournament got its start, right here in the Palestra in Philly.

80-71 win for La Salle in their first appearance in The Dance since 1992. 1990, last time the Explorers actually won a game in the tourney.

3 Philly teams in action on Friday, as Villanova and Temple will join the Explorers.

101-72 blowout loss for the Sixers to the L.A. Clippers

24 straight wins for the Miami Heat after they came from 27 down to beat the Cavs in Cleveland last night.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Let's go, Explorers. That's a huge win for La Salle last night. It says here they just might have the best shot at advancing on Friday.

I Don’t Get It: The Penn-Delco School Board has ruled. It's time for Sam Schmucker, his family and friends to move on. OF course they instead of course will move into court. Naturally.

Today’s Upper: Kudos toTahmir Craig. He's the Chester man who was freed after spending 8 months in prison for a murder he did not commit. And he was extremely gracious when he got out. Good for him.

Quote Box: “I apologized for the error that occurred."

- Delco D.A. Jack Whelan, at press conference to announce charges were being withdrawn against Craig.

Sam Schmucker learns a tough lesson

The Penn-Delco School board has spoken.

Sam Schmucker is out.

By a 6-3 vote, the board last night voted to expel the vice president of the senior class in the fallout from a physical confrontation with the director of the school play, "Annie." You can read our full story here.

Schmucker lost his part with the lead role of Daddy Warbucks. But he's probably involved in an even bigger drama now.

If you get the feeling we have not heard the end of this, you're not alone. Schmucker and his family are planning to be in court this morning to seek an injunction blocking the expulsion.

I will be on the radio this morning, along with my new columnist Chris  Freind, to talk about the great Schmucker debate with Dom Giordano on WPHT 1210-AM at 9:30.

And I see Sam is going to be on the 'Good Day' show on Fox-29 this morning.

Swell.

This newspaper editorialized earlier this week our belief that what Schmucker did in confronting the director of the play after the man had another run-in with Sam's girlfriend was an over-reaction. The very next day Freind disagreed with that position in his column. He believes Schmucker's actions deserved the boot.

This morning, the truth is I don't have a big problem with the board's vote.

Sam Schmucker did the unthinkable. He put his hands on an authority figure. No, the director was not a teacher. Doesn't matter. You can't do it. Ever. The school has policies and Schmucker violated them. And, it was not his first dust-up in school. Last year he had a verbal altercation with a teacher.

Do I think this is a very tough lesson? Sure. Life is like that sometimes. Actions have consequences. Sam will still get a diploma from Sun Valley. He just won't be part of the senior class commencement, nor other activities, such as the prom.

It appears the board was just as divided as the district over this incident and the proper form of punishment for Schmucker, who has already served more than two weeks on suspension.

Last night after the vote, some Sun Valley students indicated they might walk out of school this morning in protest. I hope they don't.

Welcome to the real world, kids. Things don't always go the way you want, or the way you think is proper. There are certainly other way to get your point across without disrupting the school day.

"He's a teenager. They make mistakes," his mother said in urging the board not to expel her son.

She lost that battle, now she's hoping to win the war.

In court.

Of course.

A 'shot' at history today in Pa. House

Somebody pinch me. I can't believe I'm reading this. Unless my eyes deceive me, the Pa. House today will vote on a bill that will get Pennsylvania out of the booze business.

Eventually.

So it's not exactly what I wanted. It won't blow up the state stores, at least not right away. But it's a move in the right direction. And it's one I never expected to see.

The amended version of the plan promoted by Gov. Tom Corbett will mean a more gradual withdrawal for the state stores. If you love Total Wine, you'll have to wait even longer, unless of course you do what most people around here do, simply drive over the line to Claymont and shop there.

Beer distributors will get first shot at the 1,200 licenses that will be sold to compete with state stores. Only after a year will other big box stores get their shot.

And I get the feeling I'm still not going to be able to do what I want - which is simply walk down a couple aisles while I am getting grocreries and snag a six-pack or case of beer, as well as a glass of wine or a bottle of vodka. I think I'm still going to have to go through the silly process of visiting a separate part of the store and use a separate checkout line. There's nothing convenient about it.

But this proposal would allow me to buy both beer and wine, and maybe even liquor, at my local beer distributor, and I guess you have to take  your progress where you find it.

We used our editorial page once again today to back the idea of privatization.

It will be interesting to see how our Delco state reps vote, and whether Tom Corbett and Republicans, who control the Legislature, can marshal the votes to get this through. I was surprised yesterday when Democrats dropped a lengthy list of amendments, clearing the way for a vote today.

Even if it passes the House, it's not a sure "shot." It then goes to the Senate, where support for the move is a bit more shaky. But again, it will be a test for Corbett, who is facing a tough re-election fight and badly needs some kind of win. He will have to use some political muscle to get this thing through the Senate.

It could be a historic day in Pennsylvania. Don't raise those champagne glasses just yet, but we're getting closer.

The battle against bullying

Bullying continues to be a growing problem, not only here in Delaware County, but across the region and nation.

Some people right here in Delco have seen and heard enough and are taking action to stop this issue in its tracks.

Tonight, the rest of you can join the battle.

There will be a special showing of the critically acclaimed movie, "Bully," in the auditorium at Springfield High School, followed by a public discussion on the issue. The presentation will run 7-9:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Last night we were proud to host a panel discussion on the issue on our 'Live From the Newsroom' live-stream Internet broadcast. If you missed the show, you can catch the replay here.

Our thanks to our panel:

Dan Tracy, principal at E.T. Richardson Middle School Springfield; Linda Ardao, former Springfield High School teacher for 35 years, co-founder of Main Line Youth Alliance and an educational consultant; Christine Belton, Springfield High School art teacher; and Matt Owens, ’97 Springfield High grad, Springfield School District electrician.

They painted a picture of kids and parents who are struggling with this new and growing dilemma, in particular the way it is now often manifesting itself through the use of social media.

I don't envy Dan Tracy. He has a tough job. He indicated not a day goes by that they are not dealing with some kind of bullying issue at the middle school level.

The goal of tonight's session is to empower students, parents and staff to raise their voices, both for a good cause, and for those who cannot.

I hope the place is packed. And I intend to make sure this newspaper continues to play a role in the solution.

We often cover the bullying incidents that make news. What I really want is to be able to use our various formats - print, online, this blog, opinion columns - to help solve the riddle of bullying. That's what last night's show was about.

It can be done, but it will take the entire community - students, parents and community members - to tame this beast.

You can take the first step tonight.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Don't forget we're tackling the bullying issue tonight on 'Live From the Newsroom'

Don't forget 'Live From the Newsroom' will be tackling the critical issue of bullying in local schools tonight.

Joining us will be:

Dan Tracy, principal at E.T. Richardson Middle School Springfield

Linda Ardao, former Springfield High School teacher for 35 years, co-founder of Main Line Youth Alliance and an educational consultant.

Christine Belton, Springfield High School art teacher

Matt Owens, ’97 Springfield High grad, Springfield School District electrician

Dr. Claudio Cerullo, from Teach Anti-Bullying Inc.

As recent incidents here in Delaware County point out, bullying is becoming an increasingly critical issue in our schools and among young people. We're going to devote our 'Live From the Newsroom' live-stream Internet show Wednesday night to talk about this issue, the people involved in trying to deal with it, and give you a chance for you to find out how you can get involved.

The show also will advance two community events this week targeting the issue.

 Springfield High School is holding an evening of information and discussion on bullying issues on Thursday night. They also will be showing the award-winning documentary film, "Bully."

Their event will take place 7 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium of Springfield High School, 49 W. Leamy Ave. After the 90-minute film a public discussion will be held.

  Dr. Cerullo is president and founder of Teach Anti-Bullying Inc. He is presenting a forum, "Bullying, the Silent Threat," on Sunday March 24 at the Ridley Area YMCA, 900 South Ave. in Secane. Doors open at 6:30. The program will run 7-9 p.m. It's free.

We'll talk about both events, and just how widespread this issue is both here in Delaware County and elsewhere, along with some possible solutions.

Do you have questions about bullying you'd like the panel to address? Email them to me at editor@delcotimes.com and I will put them to our panel.

Then tune in to DelcoTimes.com Wednesday night at 7 and take part in our live chat.

Let's all come together to stop bullying.

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday March 20 - Happy Spring!

The Daily Numbers: 20, as in March 20, 1st day of spring. Happy Spring.
45, expected high temperature today. Not so happy spring.
78, high temperature exactly 1 year ago today, on 1st day of spring.

38, age of Marcus Hook mayor, who is under investigation by the Delco D.A.'s office in connection with an incident at his home.
1,300 people in Brookhaven who signed a petition to allow the sale of alcohol in a borough restaurant. The question now will appear on the May 21 primary ballot.
10 to 20 years in prison for the Upper Chichester baby sitter convicted in the death of the 2 and a half year old in her care.
4 months, age of tot that police say a Chester Township man assaulted by throwing him on a changing table.
300 dollar fine plus court costs if you get caught with a dog without a license. State dog wardens will be fanning out across the county checking on them.
2 thefts at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital a New Jersey woman has pleaded guilty to pulling off.
17 of April, when Giant Supermarket will open at the Quarry in Haverford.
44, age of Haverford plumber who jumped into Schuylkill River yesterday in an attempt to rescue a man after his car plunged into the drink.
10 babies killed in Philly clinic during abortion procedures, according to testimony at trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell.
187,256 dollars a year, annual salary of Pa. governor. That is tops in the country.
7 Marines killed in blast during training exercise in the Nevada desert.
65 people killed during bombings in Iraq tied to 10th anniversary of Iraq War.
62-53 win for Chester as they advance to state title game for 3rd straight year.
53-49 loss for the O'Hara girls to Spring-Ford in PIAA AAAA semifinals.
50-45 win for Archbishop Carroll over Montour.
63-61 loss for Saint Joe's in the NIT to St. John's.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
You heard it here first. Dominic Brown is going to have a monster year for the Phillies.
I Don’t Get It: You call this spring? Punxsutawney needs to have his prognosticating license pulled.
Today’s Upper: Kudos toour new columnist Chris Freind. Maybe some people thought we weren't going to take strong stands when our former columnist Gil Spencer left. Today Chris chimes in on the Sam Schmucker case, and takes the exact opposite position from what we espoused on our editorial page yesterday.
Quote Box: “In speaking to my family and friends, they made me believe I'm human and I've done more good for the borough thatn this one mistake in my life."
- Marcus Hook Mayor James Schiliro, explaining why he will not give up his post.

Freindly Fire weighs in on Sam Schmucker

For those of you who may have fretted that we would be bereft of strong opinions here at the Daily Times, I have this message:

Meet Chris Freind.

Chris is our new featured columnist on Wednesday. Today he decided to chime in on the debate the Penn-Delco School District is having over whether to expel senior Sam Schmucker. Chris believes that is exactly what they should do, and not bend to those who believe Schmucker, who appears otherwise to be a solid student, should be given another chance. Those would include the editorial page of this newspaper. Yesterday we took the position that Schmucker should not be expelled for an altercation in which he got physical with the director of the school play, 'Annie.'

That episode cost him his role as Daddy Warbucks in the show. He's also been on suspension ever since.

We were wrong, according to Freind.

That's why he's going to make a great columnist, and a great addition to the Daily Times and DelcoTimes.com.

By the way, the school board is expected to make their ruling tonight. We'll be there for the full story.

We interrupt the arrival of spring for this message: It's still winter

We have this just in: Spring has been canceled.

Pay no attention to all those people lined up for free water ice at Rita's.

Yeah, I know, the experts assure us that spring arrives in just a few minutes, 7:02 a.m. to be exact. Excuse me if I do not offer a standing ovation. To do so I would have to take off the coat, scarf and gloves I once again donned this morning.

Mother Nature for the most part spared us a lot of snow this winter, despite the constant hyperventilating of the TV types with every approaching storm.

And while most of them fizzled, the temperatures have not exactly sizzled.

I hate to bring this up, but does anyone remember this date last year? The first day of spring arrived with a flourish, as we donned T-shirts and shorts as the temperature soared to 78.

Now that's what I call spring. This year? Uh, not exactly. And here's even worse news. Better get used to it. It's apparently going to be cooler than normal for another couple of weeks.

Today will be chilly, with a high in the 40sand gusty winds. At least it will be sunny. We actually might get a break this weekend with a couple of days in the 50s, but then it's expected to get cold again. The average temperature for this time of year is in the mid-50s.

The forecasters tell us temperatures won't warm up until the first couple of weeks in April. Swell. Let's hope they're about as accurate with that call as they were with their snow forecasts.

In the meantime, don't ditch that jacket as you stand in line at Rita's today. Hey, it's free isn't it?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday March 19

The Daily Numbers: 3rd degree murder conviction for Sharif Wynn in fatal shooting of man in Upper Darby barber shop.

1st and 2nd degree murder charges that the jury ruled 'not guilty' verdict on in the case.

50 veterans who joined Sen. Pat Toomey and Rep. Pat Meehan yesterday in Holmes to voice opposition to the ranking being considered for new Drone Medal by the military.

1,200 licenses to be auctioned off to sell wine and spirits in Pa., but under an amended version of plan passed by House committee yesterday the existing state stores will not go away, at least not yet.

14-10 vote to pass the bill and send it to the full House.

2 seats up for grabs on Chester Council. Both the GOP and Democrats have fields seeking the seats. 4 Democrats will run for the nod to seek the 2 seats.

4 openings up for grabs on the elected Chester Upland School Board.

62 counts of child porn filed against a West Chester man.

16 counts of endangering the welfare of children filed against an East Goshen father and his 18 year-old son in connection with a booze party at their house last weekend.

18 counts of selling or furnishing alcohol to minors.

19 underage kids found inside the house at the party. Police say all had consumed alcohol.

14, youngest person found at the party.

130 nations represented this morning at the official Mass to install Pope Francis.

500 million in stolen art taken in Boston heist in 1990 that is now being traced to the Philly region.

2.1 percent dip in table games revenue at Pa. casinos in February, only the 3rd time that's happened.

55.3 million dollars raked in at the state's casinos off table games, as opposed to $56.6 million in February last year.

.63 percent decline at Harrah's, where they took in $6.8 million in table games.

0 games played this year for Sixers center Andrew Bynum.

2 knees he will have operations on today, officially ending his season.

101-100 win for the Sixers over the Trail Blazers.

4-2 loss for the Flyers to the Lightning. Not good.

12th place in the East for the Flyers, 5 points out of playoff spot.

18 games left in this lockout-shortened NHL season.

7-3 loss for Springfield to West Chester East in finals of Flyers Cup.

77 straight wins for Chester High against state competition.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Andrew Bynum did not play a single game for the Sixers this year. Think he - and the team - owe us more than one?

I Don’t Get It: Still talking about that snow they got up in the Poconos, eh TV folks? Unreal.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Pa. House Liquor Control Committee for passing move to start down the road to privatization of alcohol sales yesterday.

Quote Box: “Can someone please tell me how this simplifies the process?"

- Pa. Rep Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, on amended bill passed yesterday by state House to move toward privatization of alcohol sales.

'Live From the Newsroom' tackles bullying issue

There will be two separate seminars this week dealing with the pressing issue of bullying in schools and neighborhoods.

We're devoting our 'Live From the Newsroom' live-stream Internet show Wednesday night to talk about this issue, the people involved in trying to deal with it, and a chance for you to find out how you can get involved.

Springfield High School is holding an evening of information and discussion on bullying issues on Thursday night. They also will be showing the award-winning documentary film, "Bully." We'll be joined by Dan Tracy, principal at E. T. Richardson Middle School, as well as teachers Christine Belton and Linda Ardao.

Their event will take place 7 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium of Springfield High School, 49 W. Leamy Ave. After the 90-minute film a public discussion will be held.

We'll also be joined by Dr. Claudio Cerullo, president and founder of Teach Anti-Bullying Inc. He is presenting a forum, "Bullying, the Silent Threat," on Sunday March 24 at the Ridley Area YMCA, 900 South Ave. in Secane. Doors open at 6:30. The program will run 7-9 p.m. It's free.

Dr. Cerullo also runs the website teachantibullying.com.

We'll talk about both events, and just how widespread this issue is both here in Delaware County and elsewhere, along with some possible solutions.

Do you have questions about bullying you'd like the panel to address? Email them to me at editor@delcotimes.com and I will put them to our panel.

Then tune in to DelcoTimes.com Wednesday night at 7 and take part in our live chat.

Let's all come together to stop bullying.

The first step on the load & winding road to privatization of alcohol sales in Pa.

The long, winding road to privatization of alcohol sales in Pennsylvania started yesterday.

With something of a detour.

A House committee approved an amendment to Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to get the state out of the booze business. There are going to be lots of curves in this road. Yesterday was just the first of them.

An amendment offered by Rep. Mark Mustio, R-44, of Allegheny makes a significant change to the Corbett plan. Instead of blowing up the state store system, and turning the entire business over to private enterprise, Mustio instead will gradually phase in privatization. You can read all the details here.

The move, which also is being promoted by Delco Rep. Tom Killion, R-168, passed in a 14-10 vote. It now will go to the full House floor. Corbett says that despite the seemingly watered-down version of his bill, he likes this plan. It could get a final House vote later this week.

Under this plan, state stores would stick around - at least for awhile. The state would still auction off 1,200 licenses to sell wine and liquor, with beer distributors getting the first crack at them. They can decide what they want to sell, and if they want to add both wine and alcohol. Only after the beer distributors gets their shot will grocery and convenience stores get a shot at the action. Some grocery stores now sell beer, they could add wine under the plan. They would have to reapply to sell beer. After a year, other private enterpise will get a chance at the licenses.

What this means is a stop at your local beer distributor could mean the ability to buy beer, wine and liquor all in one stop.

Only when private sales make up more than 50 percent of sales in a county would the state stores in that county be shut down. When there are less than 100 state stores left in the state, the rest would be shuttered.

It's not the privatization I envisioned, but it's a start. If the House does in fact take a vote later this week, it will be the farthest any effort to change Pennsylvania's archaic system of selling booze has ever gotten.

But don't get your champagne flutes out for the celebration just yet. Remember, this is an amended version of what Corbett was pitching. It's likely more amendments will be considered once this goes out to the House and then the Senate.

If it all sounds confusing, remember this is Harrisburg we're dealing with.

It is confusing, much more so that simply blowing up the system and turning it over to private enterprise.

It's a first step. Down a very long and winding road.

 

The roads are slippery? Where?

I give up.

I just heard the local TV traffic reporter tell us that the roads are slippery out there. Really? Where? Allentown? The Poconos?

Maybe. But not here. Not in Philly or the immediate suburbs. The roads are wet. If you want to consider that slippery, I guess we'll just disagree. I drove in early this morning and I did not hit one slippery spot. That's opposed to lots of wet spots.

A TV reporter checking in from the Allentown area reminded us this morning that there is plenty of snow up there. Then he pointed to a small pile of snow that obviously had accumulated from a plow placing it in that spot.

Unreal.

One more day until spring. My guess is we'll get a few more of these messy wintry mixes. They are a nuisance. Other than that, they don't amount to much, unless you are seeking ratings. Then, I guess, we're all going down a slippery slope.

The temperatures are expected to rise into the 50s later today. My guess is the roads will dry out. Film at 11!

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Monday March 18

The Daily Numbers: 43 counts of animal cruelty filed against attorney who ran an animal rescue operation in Marcus Hook.

28 dogs removed from Sixth Angel Rescue back on Feb. 22.

250 students enrolled in freshman class at Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast High School, making it the largest class in the school.

1 year removed from being targeted for closure, the merged boys and girls schools are now thriving.

160 students already registered for next year’s freshmen class.

270, goal for the freshman class.

72, age of Philly abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who goes on trial today on murder charges.

3 people killed, including a pregnant lacrosse coach, in bus accident near Carlisle over the weekend. The Seton Hill team was headed to a tournament when the bus ran off the Pa. Turnpike and slammed into a tree.

2 high school football players convicted in rape of an unconscious teen girl last yeare. They now face jail time.

1 penny dip in the price of gas last week.

3.68, average price at the pump in the Philly region.

3.79, what we were paying last year.

3 local teams that in the Big Dance for the NCAA tournament. Villanova, La Salle and Temple are all in.

1992, last time the Explorers were involved in March Madness.

1 inning of work for Roy Halladay yesterday, who was suffering from a stomach illness. He said it did not have anything to do with his arm or lack of velocity seen in his last outing.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

So how much money do you think changes hands on the NCAA Tournament? How much productivity in the office is lost to people poring over their bracket pools.

I Don’t Get It: Spring is still two days away. Don’t listen to the hype on TV about the weather today. It’s not going to amount to anything - other than a lot of hot air.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the PSPCA for bringing charges in the case of those 28 dogs found in deplorable conditions in a Marcus Hook rescue operation.

Quote Box: “This whole year has been beyond my wildest imaginations.”

- Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop President the Rev. James Olson, one year after the schools were saved from being closed.

 

Let the great liquor privatization debate begin

March Madness III: We’re about to see just how much will Gov. Tom Corbett and others pushing the idea of privatizing sales of alcohol in this state actually have.

 A state House panel could vote to start moving the state down the path toward getting out of the booze business. The House Liquor Control Committee will hold its initial hearing on Corbett’s plan to sell off the 600 state stores and auction off licenses to private operators.

It also could vote on an amendment being offered by Delco state Rep. Tom Killion, R-168, and others that would push the ball toward privatization, but in a more gradual way.

Me? You know where I stand. I’m with the governor. Yes, you read that right. I stand with Tom Corbett on this issue. I want the system blown up. Only in my case it has nothing to do with revenue. I’m simply talking convenience, being able to buy wine, beer and liquor in one spot, preferably in the local supermarket, at the same time. Or maybe the luxury of ducking into my local Wawa on the way home to buy a six-pack of beer.

Killion’s bill would make for a more gradual phase-out of state stores, closing only those that sell less than 50 percent of the alcohol sold in a county. When the number of state stores dwindle to less than 100, they would bring down the curtain on state sales.

The most vocal proponent of privatization in the Legislature, Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, wants to bring the measure to a vote in the full House by the end of the month.

They will face heated opposition from some Democrats as well as the powerful United Food and Commercial Workers union that represents those state store workers.

Corbett has added a new wrinkle to the debate, saying he would siphone off $1 billion for education funding from the sale of 1,200 liquor licenses.

Corbett has put his name on this project, taking the forefront pushing the plan in appearances from one end of the state to the other. It’s also no secret that the governor badly needs a win as he stares at a re-election campaign with some of the lowest approval ratings in recent memory.

Push has come to shove in the great liquor debate. Corbett controls both chambers in the Legislature. This whole thing might hinge on whether he can control those in his own party, some of whom are now openly questioning his leadership, and aren’t big fans of privatization to boot.

 

Another snow job

March Madness II: Or, as we refer to it in these parts, the weather report.

I was minding my own business Sunday night - after a weekend that seemed to go by in a heartbeat - when I made the fatal mistake of flipping on the TV. It’s a problem for me. I have trouble divorcing myself from the news. That’s why I spend an inordinate amount of time staring at my laptop or phone over the weekend. I figured I’d catch the 6 o’clock news for the latest headlines.

Big mistake.

I can tell you why in one word: Weather.

Oddly enough, I had already written on this topic for my Monday print column. I am past being amused at the way the local TV stations handle the weather.

So you can imagine I was not especially happy to hear that we’re getting one final shot of winter today before spring arrives on Wednesday. I had not heard anything about snow before this. I was intrigued, so I actually waited for the lovely woman doing the weekend weather to offer some more details.

I’m still waiting.

If I heard her correctly and can decipher all the gobbledygook and weather jargon, there is a chance of some snow west and north of here. And even if it does it’s not going to amount to anything. It’s too late in the season. But that didn’t stop her from letting us know there was a chance of several inches accumulating. Of course, that will only happen if you live in the Poconos.

Ah, yes, the ever-expanding northern and western suburbs. Around here? Probably not so much. It’s going to be wet, cold and miserable. It may even snow a bit, just as it did Saturday afternoon when for a while I was driving in a blizzard that lasted about 10 minutes. Nothing accumulated on the roads. The sidewalk was a bit slick.

Spring can’t get here soon enough. Then I suppose they can start screaming about drought conditions.

I think we’ll survive. So long as we don’t turn on the TV.

Let the Madness begin!

March Madness I: It wasn’t that long ago when we were wondering if this was going to be the year that Philly did not have any teams in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

What a difference a few weeks make. Three teams are in.

La Salle will take part in the “play-in” game Wednesday night vs. Boise State in Dayton, Ohio. The game will determine the No. 13 seed in the West Region, with the winner facing No. 4 seed Kansas State Friday afternoon.

Temple is in. They sit in the No. 9 seed in the East Region and they’ll also be in Dayton, where they square off with No. 8 seed North Carolina State.

Villanova checks in at No. 9 seed in the South Region. They get a very familiar name in unranked but No. 8 seed North Carolina.

Bob Grotz has all the details on Villanova. Terry Tooney checks out Temple. And Terry also has the details on La Salle's first trip to The Dance since 1992.

Let the madness begin.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Friday March 15

The Daily Numbers: 38, age of Marcus Hook Mayor Jay Schiliro, who is under investigation by the D.A.’s office for an incident that occurred at his home.

2,500 residents in Colwyn, which is again having issues involving its police department. Hard to believe.

2 knives allegedly brought into Upper Darby High School by a teen.

12,000 dollar penalty paid by Harrah’s in Chester for an underage gambler.

34,500 dollar fine for failing to make 18 slot machines available to the public within a time period agreed on with the state.

25 million dollars SEPTA hopes to raise with another fare hike to pay for its new SMART card system

38 million dollar budget shortfall that the transit agency is fighting.

25 cent increase in SEPTA’s base fare, up to $2.50

9 dollar hike in the monthly tranpass.

1 dollar transfer price, which will not change.

4 zones, down from the current 5, that SEPTA will roll out in reconfiguring its regional rail system.

2 stops in Delco that are changing, those being Marcus Hook and Highland Avenue. They go from Zone 4 to Zone 3.

1 dollar weekly hike for riders in Zones 2 and 3.

8 dollar hike for a monthly rail pass in Zones 2 and 3.

20 weekends in county prison for former assistant scoutmaster from Haverford who pleaded guilty in child porn case.

3 of 4 city unions that don’t have contracts in Philly. Yesterday they let Mayor Nutter know how they feel when they booed him off stage as he was giving his budget address.

9,040 residents who moved into Philadelphia, according to latest census.

10 straight days of gains for Wall Street.

86.36 spurt yesterday to an all-time high of 14,539.14.

74-55 loss for Villanova to Louisville in Big East Tourney.

58-57 win for Saint Joe’s over Xavier in the Atlantic 10.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Villanova is out of the Big East Tourney, but I’m thinking they’re still in for the NCAA. We’ll find out on Sunday.

I Don’t Get It
: Strikes me as a bit much to expel what otherwise looks like an exemplary kid in Sun Valley. But that is what is going on. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all the Irish. This is our weekend. And remember, it’s Paddy, not Patty. Ever!

Quote Box: “It just goes to show that when an injursitce is done to a just person, people won’t support that.” - Sam Schmucker, talking about the support he’s getting from fellow students and others in fighting a possible expulsion from Sun Valley High School.

A Sun Valley drama starring Sam Schmucker

It’s not every day you meet a kid who gets in a tiff with an adult and admits he was wrong.

Well, meet Sam Schmucker.

Sam is vice president of the senior class at Sun Valley High School. At least for another week.

Right now he’s serving a suspension. And the Penn-Delco School Board is considering expelling him. You can read all the details here.

All of this stems from a confrontation Schmucker had with the man, a contracted outside employee, running the high school production of “Annie.” The man had a confrontation with a girl in the show. As it turns out, the girl was Schmucker’s girlfriend. Schmucker didn’t take kindly to seeing his girlfriend reduced to tears and he told the director as much. That’s when this would-be Daddy Warbucks crossed the line. He grabbed the guy’s collar. And probably dropped a few expletives on him for good measure.

Uh, can’t do that, Sam.

No one knows that more than Schmucker. He admits he was wrong and agrees he should have been punished. And booted from the school play. His family members agree. What is being debated now is the severity of the punishment.

Schmucker has now served a 16-day suspension. He lost his role as Daddy Warbucks. Seems fair to me.

Now the school board wants to expel him.

Maybe things have changed since I was in high school? Expelled? I’m not sure I get it. You'd think at least they would consider placing him on "double-secret probation."

Of course, we’re for the most part getting only one side of this saga. The school board is not commenting. Seems like everyone else in the Sun Valley and Penn-Delco communities is, however. More than 70 kids and parents showed up to support Schmucker at last night’s hearing. They have made “Save Sam” T-shirts and posters. The hash tags #SaveSam and #FreeSam are burning up social media.

To be fair, an assistant superintendent testified last night that Schmucker had been involved in a previous in-class outburst.

The school board indicated they will rule on the expulsion next Wednesday.

Sam Schmucker is a Life Scout and was scheduled to receive the American Citizenship Award for the second straight year before this tempest in a teapot exploded.

That’s where this stands. Schmucker will now sit and wait for the ruling next week.

Attorney Barry Van Rensler, representing the district, made a valid point. He wondered what message the district would be sending if they backed off because Schmucker is an exemplary student.

“If this was a C student who never got in trouble, but never did any activities, are we saying we wouldn’t throw him out?” Van Rensler asked the board. “Because this student has an A average and a wonderful family and lots of friends and can pay an attorney, he should be different? Consider the message you are sending. It’s up to you to draw a line in the sand.”

Good points.

I’m still not convinced. School districts today have tons of serious problems.

Kids like Sam Schmucker, while they may have their moments, aren’t among them. Schmucker has paid the price for his actions. He shouldn’t be expelled.

Free Sam.

UPDATE: One of the men getting a bit of short shrift in all this is the director of the show. After I posted my blog this morning, he reached out to me on Facebook.

John Baxter wants everyone to know that he is not the villain here. I agree.

He did not have any part in the school's disciplinary actions taken against Schmucker, and repeated something he told our Jeff Wolfe in our original story on this drama. IF anything, he believes he was too lenient with the kids.

Here's what Baxter had to say about the situation. I think he deserves to be heard as well:

"This was 6 weeks into the rehearsal process, and the first time those kids heard me raise my voice. Sam's girlfriend was becoming a behavioral problem on stage, and I called her out on it. Yes, I yelled, and told her that I was not having any more of the attitude, and you do not talk to directors like that, and that she was to discuss the matter with me outside. And she ran backstage, where her mother was present in the theatre basement. Would I actually be yelling inappropriate things when a student's mother was in the theatre?

"When I went backstage to find her, Sam was waiting for me in front of the basement door. He forcefully grabbed my shirt collar/scarf, not my shoulder, not a nice little 'Hey man,' he grabbed me by the front and started in with the profanity. "Leave her alone, it's her birthday, you talk to her like sh**."

Schmucker then apparently dropped a few F-bombs on Baxter.

"I told him I don't know what he thought he was doing, but pointed to his hand and said 'This isn't happening.' He tore off through the stage screaming f words. All the students present heard this.

"He may sugarcoat this and act as though he was politely trying to get me to be nice, and that I talk to people terribly, it's all a complete lie. To hear someone say I 'verbally abused them for weeks' is a complete fabrication. Again I stress, this was THE first time they even heard me get loud. Are people not familiar with teachers, authority figures and directors? Has no one ever yelled at a student with an attitude problem? I was not strict ENOUGH, it took me six weeks to call one of them out on it.

"I had no hand in Sam's punishment, at all. I never asked for him to be suspended, expelled, anything. I haven't spoken to or seen him since that night. All I knew was that he was out of my show. But to see my name dragged through the mud as some villain here, it's ridiculous and false.

"I don't know what kind of hand-holding they were expecting when they hired a professional, but I've worked as an actor in more than 20 shows, and had a hand in directing 5 prior. I've dealt with many 18-year-old college students, I have never had a problem. I worked with children as a camp instructor for acting, never had these problems.

"What you have here is the popular student did something wrong, and all the kids will stand up for him without knowing the facts, or caring what transpired. The authority figure is the villain. And it's ludicrous. I don't want to see the kid's life ruined, none of his punishment is up to me…but people need to know what happened."

Why it's Paddy, not Patty. Ever

Since we’re entering the St. Paddy’s Day weekend, I will issue this annual reminder to my friend County Councilman John McBlain.

It is in fact Paddy. Not Patty. Ever.

Over the past couple of years the councilman and I - both proud Irishmen - have debated the correct perjorative to refer to Ireland’s famous patron and the day to regal all things Irish.

For years John would always call me to chide me about the newspaper's use of Paddy in referencing the holiday. He believed it was a slur on the Irish, referring to the “paddywagon” that some wind up in after perhaps a wee bit too much celebrating.

I demurred. And I went looking for an answer.

I found it on the website PaddynotPatty.com.

They laid out some simple ground rules.

It’s OK to refer to St. Patrick’s Day. St. Pat’s even passes muster.

But it’s never St. Patty’s.

They point out that Patty is a burger, while Paddy derives from the Irish name Padraig, their version of Peter.

There you have it.

Paddy not Patty. Ever.

By the way, there will be lots of spirit on tap Saturday in Springfield when the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade steps off.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day to all. You too, John!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Daily Numbers (Pope Edition) for Thursday March 14

The Daily Numbers (Pope Edition): 1, as in Pope Francis the first

1st pope from the new world.

1st Hispanic pope.

1st Jesuit pope.

266th pontiff in the Catholic church.

76 years old, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina.

5 ballots, how many votes the conclave of cardinals held before reaching consensus.

40 percent of the world’s Catholics live in Latin America.

65 percent of the population in Brazil that is Catholic, actually down from 74 percent.

10 percent of Argentines who say they attend Mass regularly on Sunday.

1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Close but no cigar for the Sixers. Make that 20 in a row for LeBron and the Heat.

I Don’t Get It: Hard to believe a mom would actually encourage a confrontation between her daughter and another girl, but that is what police allege happened in Upper Darby.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Campbell family of Chester. They represent everything that’s good there, and there is a lot of it, despite what you might hear.

Quote Box: “It’s a huge gift for all of Latin America. We waited 20 centuries.” - Jose Antonio Cruz, a Fransican friar, on learning of election of first pope from the Americas.

'Live From the Newsroom' rolls out our 2 new columnists

Opinions? Yeah, we’ve got lots of them.

Actually, although we recently lost a big one, we have more than ever. That’s because we have added two new voices to our columnist slot.

Last night on our ‘Live From the Newsroom’ live-stream Internet show, we let Chris Freind and Jodine Mayberry introduce themselves and talk about what they hope to accomplish with their columns.

Here’s a tip: Make sure you check out Jodine’s initial offering coming tomorrow. It includes a huge court ruling involving juvenile offenders who have been sentenced to life in prison - and it includes a strong Delco link. Don’t miss it.

And if you missed last night’s show, you can catch the replay here.

 


A 'first' look at Pope Francis

Habemus Papum!

With those two familiar Latin words, the world of the Roman Catholic church changed.

We have a pope. And with him we have a slew of firsts in an organization that was in dire need of change.

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now elevated to Pope Francis, represents a seismic shift for the church in almost every aspect but one.

He is the first pontiff from the new world, the first from outside Europe in nearly an eon.

He is the first Hispanic.

The first Jesuit.

His selection by the cardinals of the church on their fifth ballot seems to offer a sense of the hierarchy of the church realizing its future. My guess is that the selection of a man who has lived his entire life among the people in Argentina is not an accident. The Hispanic community is one of the few places where the church is still growing.

Nor is his selection of his name, after St. Francis of Assisi, who dedicated his life to serving the poor. As Cardinal Bergoglio, he shunned the trappings of his office,  living in a simple apartment, riding the bus to work, and often mingling with the poor, including visits to the slums that ring Buenos Aires.

There is one thing that Pope Francis is not - and it likely stands as the one possible drawback in his selection. He is not young. At 76, there is some surprise that the church, dealing for the first time in about 600 years with the retirement of a sitting pope when Benedict XVI stepped down, did not look to someone younger.

You also have to wonder if Pope Emeritus Benedict now has set a precedent for popes stepping down, instead of dying in office. Will we be going through this process again in a few years?

But all of that is a conversation for another day.

For today, we have a new pope.

And many, many firsts.

 

That's what you call a full night in sports

Blink and you miss a lot in the sports world.

Take last night for instance.

Close but no cigar for the Sixers. They gave LeBron James and the Miami Heat all they wanted, but still came up short at the end.

Chris Vito has all the action

. But fans will thrilled when Jrue Holiday threw down a thunderous dunk over King James.

Don’t look now but the Flyers are in real trouble. After the goaltender Ilya Bruzgalov announced the team had to win the back-to-back games against the Devils to stay in the playoff hunt, the orange and black promptly fell on their sword in another ugly 5-2 loss.

Rob Parent was on hand for that.

More bad news from Clearwater. Cliff Lee followed his pal Roy Halladay to the hill against the Yankees and became the second straight Phillies starter to struggle. Just keep repeating, ‘it’s only an exhibition.’

Dennis Deitch has the details.

Looking for a winner? Villanova is your team. They took their Big East Tourney opener by downing St. John’s.

Terry Toohey is camped out with the Wildcats

at Madison Square Garden.

Of course, the best basketball team in the region, the Chester Clippers, continued their march to another state title by shellacking Williamsport. Rondae Jefferson collected his 1,000th point.

Matt Chandik made the trek to Pottsville

to give you the details. Upper Darby wasn’t as lucky. They fell to Harrisburg.

Matt Smith wraps up the Royals’ season.

 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Live From the Newsroom rolls out our 2 new columnists!

I'll be introducing the two new voices on the Daily Times and DelcoTimes.com opinion pages tonight on our weekly live-stream Internet broadcast, 'Live From the Newsroom.'

You can find out about Chris Freind and Jodine Mayberry here. And Chris' first column appears here. He has a bone to pick with the media - and offers a boost to local media like the Daily Times. Do you agree?

This will actually be Jodine's second stint with the Daily Times. She used to write a weekly column for us back in the '90s.

Chris Freind on Wednesday. Jodine Mayberry on Friday. Only in the Daily Times and on DelcoTimes.com.

Have a question or a suggestion for me or one of our two new columnists? Email it to me at editor@delcotimes.com and I'll ask them about it. Then tune in tonight at 7 and take part in our live chat with the show at DelcoTimes.com.

You can add your voice to our opinions. Get in on the conversation!

 

Live From the Newsroom rolls out our 2 new columnists!

I'll be introducing the two new voices on the Daily Times and DelcoTimes.com opinion pages tonight on our weekly live-stream Internet broadcast, 'Live From the Newsroom.'

You can find out about Chris Freind and Jodine Mayberry here. And Chris' first column appears here. He has a bone to pick with the media - and offers a boost to local media like the Daily Times. Do you agree?

This will actually be Jodine's second stint with the Daily Times. She used to write a weekly column for us back in the '90s.

Chris Freind on Wednesday. Jodine Mayberry on Friday. Only in the Daily Times and on DelcoTimes.com.

Have a question or a suggestion for me or one of our two new columnists? Email it to me at editor@delcotimes.com and I'll ask them about it. Then tune in tonight at 7 and take part in our live chat with the show at DelcoTimes.com.

You can add your voice to our opinions. Get in on the conversation!

 

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday March 13

 

The Daily Numbers: 150 images, but less than 300 of child porn allegedly found on the computer of a former middle school principal in Delaware County.

 

14 weeks, how long Troy Czukoski was in his position at  Springton Lake Middle School before going on leave when word of the probe surfaced.

 

50-45-44, score by which Penncrest captured this year's Hi-Q crown, topping Haverford and Marple Newtown.

 

45, age of mother now charged along with her 12-year-old daughter, in case of an assault on another girl. They claim the girl was being bullied by the other girl.

 

300 dollar bottle of Dom Perignon stolen from the Wine and Spirits Shop in Bryn Mawr.

 

2 new columnists - Chris Freind and Jodine Mayberry - kicking off their thoughts this week in the Daily Times.

 

1.7 million dollars in bogus refunds the feds say a Chester County couple concocted after allegedly swiping the IDs of patients at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

 

140,000 square foot market being proposed for a new Wegmans at the proposed Brandywine Mills near Routes 1 and 202 in Concord.

 

2 different muder trials involving Upper Darby men ongoing in Delaware County Court.

 

3.5 billion dollars in revenue from Pa. Lottery. Gov. Corbett will ask again for Attorney General Kathleen Kane to OK the deal.

 

7 men and 5 women selected for jury in murder trial of Philly abortion doctor Kermit  Gosnell.

 

2 votes so far the cardinals in conclave in Rome. So far no new pope.

 

5 Texas teens killed in fiery car crash days after 6 teens died in Ohio crash.

 

8 straight days of increases for Wall Street, after the market eked out a 2.77 point gain on Tuesday.

 

650,000 dollars being invested by PECO on preventive maintenance.

 

5 million dollars awared to Philly International Airport for improvements.

 

1-1, what Archbishop Carroll boys and girls went in the PIAA playoffs. The boys won; the girls fell.

 

47-32 win for the Cardinal O'Hara girls to advance in PIAA play.

 

5 free agents signed by the Eagles on the first day of NFL free agency.

 

4 million dollars, what the team still owes Nnamdi Asomugha, who they cut yesterday.

 

7 runs on 6 hits in less than 3 innings surrendered by Phillies ace Roy Halladay. Uh-oh!

 

19 straight wins for the Miami Heat, who are in town to tangle with the Sixers tonight. 

 

 Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

 

That is not good news from Roy Halladay yesterday. Suddenly, his next start becomes the most important thing that has happened this spring in Clearwater.

I Don’t Get It: Parnents who encourage their kids to fight. I don't get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos toPenncrest for capturing this year Hi-Q crown yesterday, topping Haverford and Marple Newtown.

Quote Box: “There is no evidence that Dr. Czukoski ever mistreated any of our children."

- Rose Tree Media Superintendent Dr. James Wigo, after learning of child porn charges filed against the former Springton Lake principal.